route from L.A. to MN via I15 - I90 - I94
I'm considering a trip from Los Angeles via the I15 though Vegas to Utah, Idaho, Montana and then taking the I90/I94 through to Grand Rapids, MN. I haven't done a major road trip in years! I'd very much like to know what the road's like, as far as distance between gas stations, amenities, etc. Also, if anyone's experienced with this particular route, I'd like to know drive times between Vegas and SLC, for instance - or from SLC to Butte. I've been told that this trip can be done in two days but from the maps I've checke out, it sure looks as though it would take a bit longer than that. Thanks.
Livingston instead of Butte?
If you go through Yellowstone Park using US20 from Idaho Falls and US89 instead of continuing up I-15, you'll save some miles and time. You're right though, it's more three days than two. If you drive close to the speed limits, and from 7 AM to 6 PM daily, your overnights fall at about Ogden, Utah and Glendive MT, rest stops or meals not included. Las Vegas to Salt Lake is about 6 hours driving, and Salt Lake to Livingston MT where you'd connect with I-94 is about 7 hours. Total trip miles is about 2100, 31.5 driving hours. You'll find petrol at regular intervals along the route (or any other interstate route, for that matter).
L.A. to MN via I15, 90 & 94
<<If you go through Yellowstone Park using US20 from Idaho Falls and US89 instead of continuing up I-15, you'll save some miles and time.>>
Ok - I see that on the map. Could you please tell me what that road is like? I'm pretty much used to the big city and more than a little daunted at the thought of driving through miles and miles of miles and miles. While I've always wanted to visit Yellowstone, I do want to make sure there are places to find refuge in case of a problem. I wouldn't want to drive seven hours without seeing a gas station.
High western country
Don't be afraid of this at all!
You'll see everything from desert to pine forests. The mountain west is quite often treeless in places, but you'll find frequent stands of pines and snow-capped mountains, and in some places the road will run down the floor of river canyons. Highways typically run down intermountain valleys -- sometimes with rivers in the middle, sometimes not (they're often dry). Once you get into central-eastern Montana, you'll be on the Great Plains -- which are very dry in the western reaches and full of wheat in the east. It's spectacular country from one end of the route to the other.
You won't ever go 7 hours between gas stations. Along the interstates, you'll rarely go 30-40 miles without an available stop. If you look at the map again -- you'll see little town names every half inch or so, most places. Almost ALL of these will at least have a gas station, and usually a cafe as well. Trust me, along this route you'll have no problems in that regard. You'll also be sharing the road with thousands upon thousands of other vehicles, so you'll not be alone. Take your cell phone and carry stuff in your car in case you have a breakdown -- food, water, blanket, flashlight. I've been doing that for years -- it is my insurance that the car will NEVER break. Go without the stuff though, and you never know. It's like washing the car to ensure rain. Have your car serviced before you leave and tell the mechanic you're going on a roadtrip -- he'll know what to check (battery, belts, hoses, brakes, etc). Make sure you don't have any unexplained noises. Be sure to carry a few jugs of water, both for drinking and for the car, if needed. I use distilled water, but for an emergency, you don't HAVE to.
Now that we've gone through all of that, here's a tip about one of my favorite places. East of Billings MT, be sure to stop at Pompey's Pillar. There'll be signs, and you can find it on the map. The highway route (I-94) follows the Yellowstone River. This has been a "highway" through this country for probably hundreds of years (only in the olden days there was less concrete) -- and William Clark (of Lewis and Clark?) followed it on the return trip to St Louis in 1806. Meriwether Lewis was off north on his own irritating the Blackfeet at the time. When Clark saw this rock formation (the Pillar) he named it after Sacajawea's baby boy -- whom they called Little Pomp. Climb up on the boardwalks on the side of the rocks, and see where William Clark scratched his name into the rock face. It's still there and plainly visible! The first time I ever heard wild geese honk, I was standing on the banks of the Yellowstone River at Pompey's Pillar.
Oh, one other story. In 1874 or thereabouts, two years before his last battle a few miles away, George Armstrong Custer was leading a railroad surveying party through the same place. During a break, some of his men decided to go skinny-dipping in the river there. A band of Sioux attacked them and the soldiers had to flee, posthaste. Without their clothes. See? Even in the old west, with arrows flying all around your head, there's still stuff to laugh about!
I predict you're REALLY going to enjoy this trip!
L.A. to MN via I15, I90 & I94
Wow, Bob, that all sounds so fantastic!!! And I feel a lot better after reading your description of the road. I did check out the Yellowstone website and noticed that there could be some road closures and delays. I'll have to check it out more closely as the date for this trip approaches. Unfortunately, we won't have too much time to stray from the beaten path.... I have to get to a museum in GR, MN to set up an exhibit so a lot will depend on how much time I can get off from my job. However, after reading your wonderful descriptions - I'd like to take more time off sometime just to take the drive!
If we stay on the 15 through Id - how much more time would it add to the trip?
"If we stay on the 15 through Id - how much more time would it add to the trip?"
About an hour! It's about an extra 100 miles, but the other road is slower so it evens out a bit.
OK, so what kind of museum?
LOL! It's the Judy Garland Museum. Grand Rapids was her birthplace. They have a "Judyfest" every year in June around the time of her birthday. This year, they asked me to put together a photo/info exhibit on Judy and my aunt since my aunt was her makeup artist and also a close friend.
The time element of the trip hasn't been fully arranged yet which is why I don't know exactly how much time I'll have. In fact, we still might fly... yuck.
I'm old enough to remember her from television -- my Mom liked her alot! I'm glad I'm not famous and no one will ever want to do a museum on ME! Some of my "artifacts" would really PUZZLE most people anyway. :)
You'll REALLY be missing out if you fly! It's such an uncivilized way to travel these days! I do it when I have to, but otherwise I'm increasingly into other modes -- car/truck, motorcycle, even trains. I've even done cross-country trips in small aircraft -- that's always a treat because you're down IN the scenery instead of way over it. Thirty-five thousand feet is so STERILE and washed out!
Ok - I'll bit. I wanna hear more about these artifacts!! I think...
Youch! I just saw a live webcam of Monida Pass. Any tips on what kind of civilization might be before and after?